Spoiler alert – they are. In spades. Maybe a whole hand of the Ace of Spades, if you’re into that sort of thing. …and you should be. Into it, that is. The earplugs, I mean. Bottom line? If you go to live shows/concerts only once after purchasing these, they will pay for themselves, in spades, and not just aces.
“I am the one, Eargasmatron…” Actually, that’s about as far as we should take the comparison between the seminal Motörhead classic and these earplugs. One wants to rule the world and one wants to make your concert going experience painless and awesome. Eargasm earplugs are the latter, and I will say, from experience, they are absolutely amazing.
I hate the phrase “game changer” when referring to anything this side of a momentum-shifting hit at center ice, but, dang it – these are complete game-changers. So, while I try not to sound too much like an infomercial, we must go back a bit more than one week in time (5/10/2018).
The concert lineup was Týr with support from Obsidian Eyes, Ghost Ship Octavius, Aeternam, and Orphaned Land. While this isn’t a review of the concert (it was amazing), this is important inasmuch as this was the first time I’d used the Eargasm earplugs in a real-world, potentially ear destroying, situation: the beauty of the venue, Alrosa Villa, is that from Aeternam’s first note until Týr’s final “Thank you,” I stood about 3 feet from the stage and, more importantly, around 18 inches from the amp stack. For a quick trip in the wayback machine, this particular situation back in Norfolk’s Boathouse, back in ‘91, would be how I came to have a nice case of tinnitus. So, I’m familiar with what happens this close to loud things. In other words, this was an acid test, and I was going for broke.
I am really glad I did.
With apologies to Obsidian Eyes, due to prior commitments and a bit of traffic, we arrived after their set, and in the middle of Ghost Ship Octavius. Now, they were in mid-song when we cleared the bouncer area and Van’s thunder was churning and I could already feel that feeling of sound peaking and distorting in my ears. If you’re familiar with metal shows, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the kind of thing that after 3 hours, you’re going to hear “squeeeeee” for the next 18-24 hours. I quickly got out the Eargasm plugs and got them in, but it wasn’t correct – they were doing what normal earplugs do: everything became a mud puddle of slightly less loud. Now, I knew that wasn’t the end result, but since it was a rush job, I didn’t get them in quite right, and so I was adjusting through the remainder of their set and, honestly, it wasn’t until mid-way through the Aeternam set that I got it more right. It still wasn’t optimal, but I was starting to hear the difference, things were clearer, but still a bit peaked out and distorted.
Then it happened.
I twisted the left one slightly and pushed gently. It made a *perfect* seal – all other noise fell silent. This was between songs, so, I had a little time. I adjusted the other side, and now I stood looking at the band and hearing nothing but the lead vocalist talking. Weird. Then, they jumped into the next song, headlong. That’s when it was obvious why I got these. My chest was resonating with the thud of the kick, thunder of the bass, churning of the guitars, as had happened up to that point. However, unlike the previous 45 minutes of music, I could now hear everything – I could distinguish between the two guitar lines, pick out the bass, and understand the vocalist. It was truly amazing.
“Can Your Hear Me, Now?”
Apologies to Paul and Verizon, but this is the only apt lead in.
The answer to the question is an unequivocal, “Oh, my, yes!” I love concerts because of feeling the music as much as hearing it, but we all know that in order to feel the music at “concert level,” your ears suffer. Well, imagine having the feeling of the concert level music, but hearing the music as clearly and painlessly as listening to it at, probably, slightly less volume than you normally listen. It would be, if we’re to speak in Spinal Tap sound measurements, probably around a 4 on a scale of 1-10(11). There was absolutely no non-effects-related distortion. I make this distinction because, if there’s one thing metal guitarists pride themselves on, it’s their distortion settings. There was no cringingly loud and peaky cymbal work. Quite the opposite – I could hear every splash, every china, every ride, every high-hat. I could hear Terji’s lead-work intermingle with Heri’s harmonized leads as well as differentiate between the two, spacially – Herji was mixed more to the right side of the stage, and we were stage left. All the while, Gunnar’s and Tadeusz’ thunder and more thunder came through clean, clear, and sitting in the mix, perfectly.
So, you’re probably thinking, “Wow….he’s, uh, fanboying just a bit…kickbacks?” Nope, nothing like that. I’m not sure it’s “fanboying” as much as feeling that excitement when something completely revolutionizes one of the main reasons you avoid an activity. In this case, it took my argument of, “I’ll have to wear earplugs that, while protecting my hearing, will turn the concert audio experience into loud mush” and turned it into, “This made the concert enjoyable – the right volume and pretty close to crystal clear.”
With all this in mind, is the extra expense (meaning not $4 foam earplugs that may or may not fall out in the middle of the show turning the mush into screeching horror) really worth it? While Megadeth asks, “Can you put a price on peace?!” I will reword it a little to, “Can you put a price on keeping your hearing?!” I left the show feeling something I hadn’t felt after a concert…ever. My ears were not ringing. I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed and “burnt.” These things completely changed my concert going experience for the better, and trust me – I’ve been to enough metal shows to know these are “game changers.”
I know, you’re wondering if there’s anything I didn’t like. Well, yeah, actually, there is one thing. The magic filter thing that sits inside the soft silicon earpiece is a little hard, meaning if you hit your ear where it’s sitting, it’s probably going to sting a bit, and after 6 hours of wear, my ears were sore where the filter was sitting. Remember, though, that’s after *6 hours* of wear. There are very few things on this planet that don’t become uncomfortable after 6 hours shoved in your ear, so, take it for what it’s worth. Wearing them during the set and giving your ears a little breather between sets will mitigate this, and get them back in before the next set and you’ll be back to enjoying the concert with very minimal, if any, discomfort.
So, short story long – if you love the concert experience but are afraid that the volume will destroy your hearing, these are definitely worth the money.